As a 1979 graduate of Augusta College, I had no problem with referring to my alma mater as Augusta State University. Having moved to Virginia the year I graduated to work on Capitol Hill, I met people from everywhere and, without exception, each had heard of Augusta.
Imagine my surprise during a visit to Augusta to learn of the unpopular name change to Georgia Regents University, and the purported rationale. Notwithstanding the seeming lack of integrity that went into the process of renaming the combined schools, there are additional points worth making.
The first is the likely lost revenue from alumni donations when even alumni, having “healed” over this debacle, no longer feel a connection to a school called GRU. This lost revenue would be in addition to those withheld donations from alumni who are simply angry.
The hue and cry of alumni and other opponents of the name selection should not be underestimated. Earlier this summer, I witnessed the ire and the ultimate power of alumni, students and faculty at the University of Virginia who were none too pleased with the unilateral decision by UVA’s Board of Trustees to dismiss its president.
There are lessons to be learned from this example of a governor-appointed board making a decision that is not supported either by facts or the college community. Needless to say, the decision was reversed when the process could not stand up to public scrutiny. The Georgia Board of Regents would do well to learn from the mistakes of UVA’s governing board.
Some wrongs never will go away until they are righted. Renaming the combined ASU and Georgia Health Sciences University something that reflects local pride will go a long way toward garnering national recognition.